Reading Joss Whedon

Reading Joss Whedon by Rhonda V. Wilcox, Tanya R. Cochran, Cynthea Masson and David Lavery

In an age when geek chic has come to define mainstream pop culture, few writers and producers inspire more admiration and response than Joss Whedon. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Much Ado about Nothing, from Dr. Horrible’s Sing–Along Blog to The Avengers, the works of Whedon have been the focus of increasing academic attention. This collection of articles represents some of the best work covering a wide array of topics that clarify Whedon’s importance, including considerations of narrative and visual techniques, myth construction, symbolism, gender, heroism, and the business side of television. The editors argue that Whedon’s work is of both social and aesthetic significance; that he creates “canonical television.” He is a master of his artistic medium and has managed this success on broadcast networks rather than on cable.

Reading Joss Whedon by Rhonda V. Wilcox, Tanya R. Cochran, Cynthea Masson and David Lavery

I took a lot of media production units at university, and this book reads rather a lot like one of the texts we might have used then. Divided into different essays with titles like Hero’s Journey, Heroine’s Return?, Technology and Magic and All Those Apocalypses, you’re going to get some seriously in-depth study of the themes in Joss Whedon’s extensive body of work.

I was a huge Joss Whedon fan right up until he made some extremely baffling, male-privilege-ish comments about feminismism, and then he lost me. I’ve seen Buffy a hundred times over, went to the movies to see Serenity, and have enjoyed every episode of Firefly. I’m not as hugely into the genres he focuses on anymore, but I still have massive respect for his work (if not, so much, the man).

What’s most confusing is – as this text will show you – this is a man who did so much for the image of women in popular fiction. He created an idol for many a 90s teenager in Buffy and her friends. He made his female characters not only the heart of many of his productions, but also made them multifaceted and imperfect. And, no matter how frustrating it might have been at the time, he showed that young women can stand on their own two feet when he refused to give Buffy a romantic happy ever after.

I’m not going to go into long explanations about the writing in this book; it’s too detailed and specific for the casual reader (a good thing for its purpose, but not so much for my blog!). Let’s just say that you’re getting your money’s worth as far as analysis of Whedon’s shows go.

If you’ve made it through the past couple of decades without catching a single episode of Buffy or Angel or one of Whedon’s other hits, then there’s not going to be anything here for you. Basically, Reading Joss Whedon is for people who are already familiar with and fans of his work. This is a collection of studies on what makes this man such a phenomenon, and the influence he has had on popular culture.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 3rd – 9th March


Canadian Parliament flies the Ukrainian flag.

My week in books? Well I read the first FOUR books in Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. I want to read the rest!

Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

I started two below-good Regency romances. One of them was written by a US author who clearly couldn’t stop her far right-wing political views from bleeding through into the book. Not exactly appropriate to fill a book set in England with NRA propaganda!

So I didn’t finish either of those books.

Instead, I picked up sweeter Regency by Theresa Romain.

 Pro-Ukrainian Anti-Russian invasion protest Canberra Australia 5th March 2014 2

Pro-Ukrainian demonstrators in Canberra.

Scary week for the world. Missing aeroplane, Russia essentially declaring war on Ukraine. They’re forcing an illegal referendum on Ukraine in a few days, and there’s not a “No” option on the ballot form – they’re forcing Crimea to become part of Russia.

 Pro-Ukrainian Anti-Russian invasion protest Canberra Australia 5th March 2014 Russians taking photographs

Russian embassy staff photographing us for God only knows what reason.

We had a protest at the Russian embassy here in Canberra and were harassed by KGB-style Russian staffers. The Australian Federal Police actually told us to file a complaint against the Russian embassy. The Russians seem to think the USSR still exists – and even in Australia they treat people like that!

Naked in Death is still only $2.99

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

My review of The Returning Hero by Soraya Lane

The Returning Hero by Soraya Lane

My review of Most Eligible Sheriff by Cathy McDavid

Most Eligible Sheriff by Cathy McDavid

My review of Loving Lord Ash by Sally MacKenzie

Loving Lord Ash by Sally MacKenzie

My review of Turn Up the Heat by Kimberly Kincaid

Turn Up the Heat by Kimberly Kincaid

My review of Passionately Yours by Cara Elliott

Passionately Yours by Cara Elliott

Naked in Death: $2.99

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

This is worth picking up for this price. The first book in J.D. Robb’s epic thirty-nine or so book (so far) futuristic crime series, I’m sure many of you have already read this first one, first published in 1995. Eve Dallas is the brilliant heroine of the piece, but many people have heard of the series because of the iconic Roarke.

Amazon Australia

Amazon US 

Here is the novel that started it all – the first book in J. D. Robb’s number-one New York Times-bestselling In Death series, featuring New York City homicide detective Lieutenant Eve Dallas and Roarke.

It is the year 2058, and technology now completely rules the world. But New York City Detective Eve Dallas knows that the irresistible impulses of the human heart are still ruled by just one thing-passion.

When a senator’s daughter is killed, the secret life of prostitution she’d been leading is revealed. The high-profile case takes Lieutenant Eve Dallas into the rarefied circles of Washington politics and society. Further complicating matters is Eve’s growing attraction to Roarke, who is one of the wealthiest and most influential men on the planet, devilishly handsome… and the leading suspect in the investigation.

Goodreads giveaway: Renegades by S.A. Mason

Enter HERE to win one of ten copies of Renegades (The Renegades Series #1) by S.A. Mason.

Renegades (The Renegades Series #1) by S.A. Mason

Elora Pertin spent her life trying to please her father, an esteemed General for the Empire.

When he convinced her to leave her quiet life as a scientist to advance a secret project for the Emperor, she had no idea what she was getting into. The seemingly innocent projects she engineered were actually being used to develop a genocidal weapon. After uncovering the Emperor’s plot, Elora had no choice but to act.

Elora finds herself fighting for her life against the Empire she once served, abandoning everything with only a handful of friends and an unlikely ally—the Emperor’s deadliest assassin. Will he prove himself true as her protector, a loyal servant of the Empire, or a romantic distraction? With the law and assassins searching the star system for them, Elora and her team are determined to accomplish their mission . . . or die trying.

This week and last week

Sunset Canberra 24th September 2013 Sonya Heaney

There was no summary last weekend, because my father decided to have a stroke, and we were all a bit preoccupied with hospitals and things. What a mess of a month September has been!

My review of Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna

Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna

My review of Mine to Keep by Cynthia Eden

Mine to Keep by Cynthia Eden

My review of Butterfly Cove by Christina Skye

Butterfly Cove by Christina Skye

An argument for authors doing their research…

Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Deadly Descent by Kaylea Cross is still only 99 cents

Deadly Descent by Kaylea Cross

My review of Anything for Her by Janice Kay Johnson

Anything for Her by Janice Kay Johnson

Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna

Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna

When Lara Kirk was abducted months ago, Miles Davenport vowed he’d bring her home. But the mission failed. Miles has become totally obsessed; he can practically hear Lara pleading for him to save her. Finding her after all this time will be next to impossible…

Lara Kirk lives in a shadowy world where reality and fantasy are one. Her captors have poisoned her body with concoctions that enhance psychic abilities–and they seem to be working. To escape, Lara has formed a deep attachment with a man whose virile, sensual presence in her mind is her only comfort. She’s not even sure if he’s real–until the six-foot-five-inch powerhouse bursts in to rescue her…

Once freed, Lara has no choice but to trust Miles with her life as they run from enemies too twisted to imagine. But they’re also fighting a dangerous attraction that could kill–or save–them both. Either way, it’s going to be a hell of a ride…

Fatal Strike by Shannon McKenna

A warning: this is definitely not the place to start reading this series! Fatal Strike is book ten in a series – a little fact I was unaware of when I requested it for review – and I was more than a little confused. Nine books is a lot of time to create a huge web of characters and their children, and a whole heap of backstory, especially in a series involving paranormal elements. The expectation is that you already know what’s going on when you start on number ten.

Since Christine Feehan created the GhostWalkers series, there’ve been a number of other series in a similar vein: secretive military guys with enhanced physic and other powers, who track down women with similar abilities, teaming up to fight powerful and yet corrupt organisations who want to harvest their abilities.

As I said, until now I couldn’t have told you anything about this series, but my impression garnered from reading this book is that fans of Maya Banks’ similar series will like this one.

In fact, my reaction to this book was practically identical to Banks’ KGI books. I loved the suspense passages to bits. As with Banks’ books, I much prefer the action sequences to the bed action and lengthy love declarations, but I think I’m in the minority there… The similarities are right there to see, down to the fact the characters in both series shower three or four times a day!

I do really enjoy suspense stories, but I tend to prefer them without the paranormal element. Apart from anything else, the mental psychic conversations don’t make up for real relationship development in my eyes. So often in these stories the hero and heroine don’t meet face to face until well into the book, the first twenty-five percent of the story being them having mental text message conversations (they actually converse in mental text speak in this one). Once they team up, there’s lotsa, lotsa smexing and discussion about their feelings for each other to be had for the next two-quarters of the book, before the action picks up again at the end.

The text speak took a while to get used to, as I never ever use it myself.

4 the lv of Christ pls less noise change course 20 degrees 2 ur right and fcking HURRY – for example.

The plot points of this story make up a wildly popular template for this subgenre, and the paranormal element helps to explain the growly alpha hero and as well as the quick resolution for the happy ending. But like I said, it’s not my favourite type of story. I like my characters a little more realistic, I suppose – no powers to fix things, and a few less flattering possessive manly traits – and I’ve been reading less and less in the paranormal genre in the past year or two.

If this is your kind of thing I’d recommend checking out Christine Feehan’s Conspiracy Game and Murder Game (not the first two in the GhostWalkers series, but they can be read on their own). I think Feehan really mastered the theme.

If extreme alphas, some damsel in distress moments and psychic stuff are your kinds of things, you’ll like this one. I suspect you’ll like it even more if you’re already a fan of the series and know the backstories of the dozens of secondary characters!

Fatal Strike is set for release on the 24th of September.

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

Currently Free: Hers to Choose by Patricia A. Knight

Hers to Choose (Verdantia #2) by Patricia A. Knight is free for a few more days.

Hers to Choose  (Verdantia #2) by Patricia A. Knight

To preserve their civilization, a disillusioned warrior and a violated innocent need to put aside the trauma of their past to confront a present evil.

Mentally scarred from her years as prisoner to the off-world invaders, Lady Sophillia Glorianna DeLorion, doubts she can be a fit sexual partner for any man…

…even one whose passionate green eyes make her remember what it is to desire.

Commander of the Queen’s Royal Guard, Eric DeStroia had grown up watching the corrosive, soul-killing effects of arranged, aristocratic marriage and vowed to remain alone. But under his hardened military exterior, Eric has a kind heart. When the second Tetriarch suggests he marry a noble woman rescued from the enemy, Eric reconsiders, consoling himself with visions of sheltering a wounded dove under his mighty arm. Instead, he discovers a fierce falcon that refuses to stoop to his lure.

In the aftermath of their resounding defeat, a survivor from the enemy camp plotted a return to Verdantia to exact retribution. His first objective is the recapture of Lady Sophillia DeLorion. She had been unreachable until she went to the Oshtesh. Now, only Eric DeStroia stands in his way.

The Troll Bridge by Patti O’Shea

The Troll Bridge by Patti O'Shea

Lia Stanton has always played life safe, but when an incident at a particle accelerator sends her through a wormhole, she goes from Earth 2010 to Jarved Nine 2050. Almost everything is unfamiliar, and when she’s accused of being a spy, nothing is safe—least of all the soldier sent to guard her.

Troll Maglaya is on his third tour of duty on Jarved Nine. He thought there were no more surprises here for him, but that was before he met Lia. He’d never given much thought to time travel, but now he needs to convince this woman to give 2050—and him—a chance.

The Troll Bridge by Patti O’Shea

This story appeared in The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance and was a real standout for me, but you can also buy  it as a separate ebook. It is short, but sweet.

Time travel isn’t a genre I’ve read much of. Either the author has to go into massive detail to make us believe in a trip hundreds of years into the past (Outlander, for example), or else they have to make the period of time travelled shorter so that the story can be believable. I suppose you could say The Troll Bridge fits into the second category.

There’s a lovely little twist in this one, which lends credibility to the fast romance (it has to be fast, considering the story’s length). I always love when a time travel author can find a way to link the characters from different eras, giving them a solid reason to change their lives forever.

There’re a few really good entries that make buying The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romance worthwhile, but even if the anthology doesn’t interest you, on its own The Troll Bridge is a good bet for a quick read.

Recommended Christmas Reads: Holiday in Death by J.D. Robb


Because who doesn’t love Eve and Roarke, their tumultuous relationship and the near-future world they live in?!

This is book #7 in the series.

Holiday in Death by J.D. Robb

No one likes to be alone during the holidays. For New York’s most posh dating service, Personally Yours, it is the season to bring lonely hearts together. But Lieutenant Eve Dallas, on the trail of a ritualistic serial killer, has made a disturbing discovery: all of the victims have been traced to Personally Yours. As the murders continue, Eve enters into an elite world of people searching for their one true love–and a killer searching for his next victim. A world where the power of love leads men and women into the ultimate act of betrayal…